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Space Technology Research Grants

Broadband Electrically Tunable Monolithic Mid-Infrared Laser

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Broadband Electrically Tunable Monolithic Mid-Infrared Laser
Mid-Infrared spectroscopy is an invaluable tool for chemical detection and identification. While single frequency lasers have been used previously for single chemical detection in NASA missions, a broadly tunable laser offers the possibility to detect a large number of chemicals with a single source. This is invaluable for providing maximum functionality in a limited footprint. Current broadly tunable mid-infrared laser systems utilize one or more laser gain chips and mechanical external cavity tuning in order to span a wide spectral range. This technique is sensitive to mechanical shock and has a limited tuning speed. Our goal is to replace these systems with a compact source that is electrically tunable and mechanically robust. This is a potentially transformative technology that will dramatically improve both SWaP and reliability for future NASA missions. The main goal will be accomplished via three main research tracks: 1) Engineering a broadband gain medium based on quantum cascade laser technology; 2) Development of a multi-section, electrically tunable laser design for the mid-infrared; 3) On-chip beam combining and amplification for high power and excellent beam quality. More »

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